January and February are the perfect months to look back at your website’s Holiday performance and study your every move (much like preparing for next year’s Super Bowl). This entails learning from the winning strategies and figuring out the roadblocks encountered.

More often than not, online merchants face a high volume of traffic during the Holidays, but what may come as great news can quickly turn into catastrophe if your website isn’t set to handle such an influx of visitors. To address this specific issue, David Crocq (our lead back end developer) broke down the best ways to avoid website crashes during the next peak season.

THE SHORT ANSWER IS TO ESTIMATE TRAFFIC

To avoid costly server crashes, the goal is to forecast the greatest number of concurrent users expected. Based on this projection, the next step is to deploy the appropriate infrastructure to support this load of traffic: to which you should always add a 30% buffer.

NOW IS THE TIME TO TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS

Once the infrastructure is ready to handle the forecasted traffic, a serie of stress tests should take place. Experience has taught me focusing on multiple scenarios enables to confirm whether or not the influx will be supported. In parallel, this route certifies load times are acceptable for each page. Several online tools are available to run performance and load tests. If you’re looking for a recommendation, Blazemeter is a safe bet.

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY

When crunch time hits and the traffic starts flowing, keeping track of the servers’ health is crucial. A foolproof monitoring strategy allows you to prevent problems before they occur. Steer clear of costly downtime, dreadful 404 pages, slow queries, unacceptable page load times and checkout errors with smart monitoring platforms such as New Relic, Pingdom or Google Analytics.